Fireworks Send Police K9 Scrambling

Santa Rosa Police dog missing since 4th of July

By Kris Sanchez
|  Monday, Jul 5, 2010  |  Updated 1:26 PM PDT
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Santa Rosa Police

Taz is a member of the Santa Rosa Police Department K9 Unit.

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If you have a dog, you know that Fourth of July fireworks are no fun for our four-legged friends. That was certainly the case for a K9 with the Santa Rosa Police Department that took off during the booms and bangs of the traditional fireworks Sunday night.

Taz, a 70-pound Belgian Malinois who works for the Santa Rosa Police Department, is back where he belongs after a rough night. His handler, a Santa Rosa police officer, noticed the dog was missing from his Windsor home at about midnight Sunday. The dog had somehow escaped his locked enclosure and run away from home.

Cops from Santa Rosa, Sonoma, and Windsor fanned out in search of the specially trained canine but had no luck so they put the public on notice to keep eyes out for the dog.

The call for help worked and at about 10 a.m. Monday, Taz was found. An employee at VCA Forestville Animal Hospital in Sebastopol found the 4-year-old Belgian Malinois wandering on Starr Road in Windsor while she was on her way to work, Santa Rosa police Lt. Steve Bair said.

Taz was limping and his nails were worn down to the pads of his paws but other than that, he seems to be in good health. He might have injured his right shoulder when he hopped a fence, Bair said.

"It looks like he pulled an all-nighter," Bair said.

The employee scanned a chip in the dog's neck for identification and determined it was European. Bair said the chip was implanted in Europe.

Police speculate that illegal fireworks going off in the neighborhood might have spooked Taz enough to drive him to bust out of his enclosure in an attempt to find a place where he might have felt safer.

"Taz jumped over one gate and broke through another," said Bair. A veterinarian will check out Taz on Tuesday.

The dog is one of four K9s with the department, which considers the police dogs invaluable tools. Many of the dogs in the department are dually trained on routine patrol and narcotics detection, according to the department website.

Bair says a service dog like Taz is easily a $20,000 investiment for the department, between paying for the dog and  the required training for dog and the officer who handles him. Taz lives with his handler and his family.

Bay City news contributed to this report.

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